By Josh Gelfand
Leave it to those crazy Oregonians to step up and pass a definitive industrial-hemp legalization bill. Yesterday the Oregon House passed SB 676 by a vote of 46-11. It will allow production and possession of industrial hemp along with trade in industrial hemp commodities and products.
Oregon is now the ninth state to pass such a law. It joins Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia in regulating hemp farming under state law.
The Hemp Industries Association pegged last year's retail sales of all hemp products in North America at $360 million. Allowing U.S. farmers to grow and process the diverse, profitable, and eco-friendly crop will help decrease imports and increase domestic production and exports, thereby narrowing the trade gap.
The "Billion Dollar Crop" heralded by Popular Mechanics magazine in 1927 can finally live up to its potential. Hemp has been illegal to grow in the U.S. for more than 50 years because of misinformation and politicization by the Drug Enforcement Agency, along with competitive business pressures from the pharmaceutical, paper, and synthetic-fiber industries.
For information on what's happening in your state, check out Vote Hemp